GUI confident of bouncing back from 'rock bottom'
The Golfing Union of Ireland membership reduced by almost 47,000 since the economic crisis began in 2008 - but the good news is that the rate of defections has slowed significantly.
The Union's honorary treasurer, Rollo McClure, reports that country-wide the membership decreased by around 1,000 last year, and in Munster the numbers actually increased by approximately 200.
"We have reached rock bottom, hopefully, and we can be relatively optimistic about things improving slowly," he said.
The total number of GUI-affiliated golfers - as at October 31, 2015 - is now 130,000, compared with a peak of 177,000 prior to the downturn.
In terms of money, mainly due to a freeze on GUI and Branch subscriptions over the last three years, the Union's finances showed a number of deficits, which last year was almost €500,000.
That is forecast to drop to €300,000 over the next year due to careful budgeting.
The plan is to eliminate the deficit by an increase in the GUI subscription of €3 for clubs in the Republic and £2 for Northern Irish clubs.
Overall, golf is beginning to see some upturn in popularity, but it remains a buyers' market for those who want to join clubs and also for green fee golfers.
The latest Backspin Magazine course rankings, as voted by a 75-member panel, highlights the quality of golf that is available in this country.
The home course of Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke (below), Royal Portrush, came out tops in the links section, while Mount Juliet claimed first place in the parkland category.
1 Royal Portrush (Dunluce); 2 Portmarnock; 3 Royal Co Down; 4 Waterville; 5 Lahinch (Old); 6 Ballybunion (Old); 7 Co Louth; 8 The European Club; 9 Co Sligo; 10 The Island; 11 Tralee; 12 Ballyliffin (Glashedy); 13 Portstewart (Strand); 14 The Royal Dublin; 15 Old Head Golf Links; 16 Enniscrone; 17 Ballyliffin (Old); 18 Doonbeg; 19 Carne Golf Links; 20 Connemara; 21 Rosapenna (Sandy Hills); 22 Donegal (Murvagh); 23 Portmarnock Hotel & Links; 24 Castlerock; 25 Dooks.
1 Mt Juliet; 2 Adare Golf Resort; 3 K Club (Palmer); 4 Druids Glen; 5 Killarney (Killeen); 6 Headfort (New); 7 Fota Island (Deerpark); 8 Malone; 9 The Heritage (Ballesteros); 10 Lough Erne; 11 Killeen Castle; 12 Carlow; 13 Cork (Little Island); 14 Concra Wood; 15 = Carton (Montgomerie), Palmerstown Stud; 17 Belvoir Park; 18 Carton (O'Meara); 19 Slieve Russell; 20 Hermitage; 21 Luttrellstown Castle; 22 K Club (Smurfit); 23 Tramore; 24 Bunclody Golf & Fishing Club; 25 Galway Bay.